NFU Vice President Stuart Roberts discusses his recent day with Robin Milton (NFU Hill and Uplands Forum Chairman) and NFU staff on a range of meetings around the South West Uplands.
After what has been a very full day, with some positive discussions, I felt my first ever blog was appropriate. Following on from the recent announcements detailing officeholders' work areas, I was fortunate enough to gain the uplands brief. Of course, step number one for an arable farmer from East Anglia was to get out, meet, speak and hear from members across our uplands.
Throughout the day, we met with members from Bodmin Moor, Dartmoor and Exmoor, while also getting out on farms and commons. Seeing commons first hand was a fascinating experience, further understanding the benefits of grazing these areas - not only for food production but also for delivering on a wide array of public benefits. It’s hard to comprehend the sheer scale and beauty of some of these grazed landscapes.
The meetings throughout the day pulled out some key messages for me. The absolute necessity of connectivity (broadband) was once again highlighted as essential to support and develop profitable and productive upland farming businesses. These businesses have to be able to responsibly develop to maintain themselves at the forefront of agriculture. To do this, positive planning policies that enable truly sustainable growth, are vital. Rest assured I will continue to represent and push these core asks across government departments and wider industry.
However, what did surprise me across all three meetings was the strength of opinion for further engaging with the public – in particular through schools and the national curriculum. This underlying passion for further highlighting our quality British food and produce, shouting about what we do and engaging in new and smarter ways with our consumer, was a welcome surprise. I hope through the NFU's increased work on primary education we can begin to demonstrate a far better link with our primary school curriculum, the first step in a much longer journey.